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Chase Utley to DH, bat second in first game for Dodgers

Chase Utley to DH, bat second in first game for Dodgers
Chase Utley is set to make his debut with the Dodgers as a designated hitter. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Chase Utley will be the designated hitter and bat second in his first game for the Dodgers in the oepning game of a three-game series against the Houston Astros.

The 36-year-old Utley, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies two days earlier, is batting a career-low .217. However, he has 15 hits in 31 at-bats since returning from the disabled list this month.

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"I feel like I have some gas left in the tank," Utley said.

Utley said he "absolutely" intends to play beyond this season.

The former UCLA standout said his ankle problems contributed to his slow start this season.

"It wasn't an ideal situation throughout the first part of the season," Utley said. "Every player that plays on an everyday basis has aches and pains. But ultimately, I felt like it was really hurting my performance. That's why I decided to take it easy, go on the DL and get everything squared away."

Utley will be the Dodgers' primary second baseman while Howie Kendrick remains on the disabled list.

Manager Don Mattingly said he expectes Kendrick to reclaim the position when he returns. Utley is fine with that.

"I'm not here to try to take anybody's position," Utley said.

Utley said he is open to working out at third base.

"I played a little third base in the minor leagues," he said. "A few years ago, we thought about maybe making the transition over to third base, so I took a ton of ground balls over a few weeks span.

"I'll take some grounders over there and see what happens."

Utley said that when he was growing up in Long Beach, his favorite Dodgers were Steve Sax, Brett Butler and Kirk Gibson.

He also mentioned that he attended Game 2 of the 1988 World Series.

Utley's parents still live in Long Beach.

"I imagine I'll see their faces more often than I did before," Utley said.

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